Computer ergonomics for photographers


ergonomics_topic_animation.jpg“What? I thought this was a photography blog? The plonker’s lost the plot”, you may be thinking. And you’re right about the losing the plot thing. Lately, I’ve been spending phenomenal amounts of time in front of my computer at work, and as a result, my neck is completely shot. I was talking about it with a few of my friends, and it transpires that my mate Ed Perchick – who has written for us before (The softer side of Photography, and construct your own flash diffusor) – has a master’s degree in ergonomics!

I cajoled him into writing an article about how to not break yourself completely when working on a computer. You never know when this knowledge may come in handy! 


Why is Ergonomics important?

When sitting at a computer for many hours (or even shorter periods of time) it is very important to ensure that it is set up in an ergonomic (safe) way. Failure to do so can result in Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) which is painful and debilitating.

At your desk

You need to make sure that your desk is height adjustable – optimally a two height desk, so that you can adjust the height of the monitor, as well as having the keyboard at the correct height. The correct height for the keyboard allows your arms to hang at your sides, with your elbows at right angles, and straight wrists.

Ensure that your mouse (and phone if you use it a lot) are within reach of you when you sit comfortably so that you do not need to twist or stretch to reach them.

Picture your desk in zones. The most used things need to be right there, e.g. keyboard. Things that are used less often still need to be easily reached with no twisting or stretching, and finally those things that are used very infrequently can be far enough away that you need to reach for them.

Your Chair

You need to make sure that your chair fits you well and that the depth of the seat is such that you can sit right back so your lower back is supported, but not dig into the back of your knees. In addition, your feet should rest flat on the floor.

Your monitor

The top of the monitor should be around your eye level when you sit comfortably, though with larger monitors, it is not unreasonable to have the top of the monitor a little above eye level.

Make sure that there is no glare on your monitor – make sure that any strong lights are softened (halogen spots are BAD), and make sure that the monitor is at right angles to any remaining bright lights – this means that you’re not squinting from a light ahead of you, and not getting glare on the monitor from bright lights behind you.


So, now that you know, you will be able to survive all thos long, late-night sessions editing all your artwork in Photoshop! Also, remember to take breaks every now and again – 5 minutes every hour is a good idea. Go get some water, play some ping-pong, go grope your girl- or boy-friend for a bit – whatever works to get your mind off work, so you are ready to return with a clear mind!

Big thanks to Ed for doing this article for us!

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